Capturing the City with Zayira Ray

Written by Malva Nasiell Nauckhoff

Published Oct. 8, 2018


Photo by Alex Ginsburg

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More often than not, where we grow up has an influence on who we are. Some of us grow up fitting well into the background, never once prompting anyone to look at us twice. Others spend their lives standing out, turning heads without meaning to.

Artists are influenced by more than just practicing and experimenting. For them, their surroundings have deep significance to the development of an artist. What can start out as simply the focus of an artist’s work may end up transforming and shaping the artist themselves.


For Zayira Ray, a lot has changed since the beginning of her journey as an artist. Always having been an artistic person, experiments with different forms of art have been a part of her life for a long time.


Hence, when a new interest in photography occured, Ray didn’t view it as anything other than a hobby. She would document the city of New York with nothing more than her phone, taking pictures whenever she could.


In the beginning of Ray’s photography career, a friend introduced her to the other sides of the art. He encouraged her to not only document the city, but to explore it in a way she had never done before. She began seeing it from the perspective of a photographer rather than that of a bystander, not minding what seemed so ordinary.


“That initial mentorship was really formative in developing my passion for photo and in breaking out of my shell as both an artist and a person,” Ray said.


Since then, Ray has been more than determined to do just that. “I’ve been making conscious efforts to experiment and try new things within photography regardless of the outcome, which has been hugely beneficial to the growth of my art.”


Ray aspires to change the lack of representation in the fashion industry in America. What audiences see are often archetypes of real people that tend to harm how feminine people are viewed and treated.


“I feel like, as a society,” Ray began, “we push so many restrictive labels on women—even the archetype of the ‘badass woman with no care for the world’ can be harmful. Sensitivity doesn’t equate to weakness.”


While creating, she fights for more than herself, she fights for the growth of her community. Ray’s journey has only just begun, and she’s not leaving the rest of us behind.

To read the rest of our exclusive interview with Zayira Ray, get your print or digital copy of issue four today!

Stay up to date with Zayira on her Instagram or check out her website here.

See the rest of the articles from issue four here.

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